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Tag: Q&A (71-80 of 105)

Widespread Panic's John Bell on their new album, covering the late Vic Chesnutt, and why he's 'not too fond' of the 'jam-band' label

widespread-panicImage Credit: Jay Blakesberg/RetnaGeorgia  rockers Widespread Panic are approaching their 25th anniversary, and set to release their 11th album, Dirty Side Down, on May 25th. The new record includes one especially poignant track: a cover of “This Cruel Thing,” an unreleased song from friend fellow Athens musical legend Vic Chesnutt, who passed away on Christmas Day 2009. We got lead singer John Bell on the phone to chat about Chesnutt’s legacy, the difference between improvisation and “stumbling,” and the general state of the Widespread Panic union.

Entertainment Weekly: After 10 albums, how do you keep finding ways to push your music forward?
John Bell: I think you just keep a few holes in the dam so stuff will keep leaking through. We’re looking for new territory just to keep it fun and interesting for us.

Do you think there’s something inherent in the “jam band” aesthetic that allows you to stumble more easily across new sounds?
Hmm. Well, I’m not too fond of the phrase “jam band.” It does tend to refer more to stumbling than actual improvisation.

Can you explain the difference between those two things in your mind? Obviously one implies more conscious thought rather than just tripping over something, but expand on that.
We hope it’s more musically soul-searching. The term “jam band” — in the beginning, there was just the notion of bands that were more willing to improvise and get off the script of a song. But hopefully, you improvise with a purpose. With some focus. And with open ears to what other people are doing on stage. It’s easy as a player to just kind of stand around until you find something. A listener applying themselves to “jam band” music might not be listening with focus, either… I’m trying not to offend anybody.

Are they not listening with focus because of all the drugs?
[laughs] Oh, no! I just think there’s a difference when you’re experimenting with a sense of musical conversation going on. The performance can rise up to much heavier level levels than it would if you were just following a script. READ FULL STORY

Joanna Newsom talks about her excellent new triple album, the 'toxic' world of fashion, and 'passing' in the New York scene

Joanna-NewsomJoanna Newsom—the harp-plucking, polarizing critics’ darling—has been trying to shake off her shyness lately, dabbling in New York fashion and dating Andy Samberg (which she prefers not to discuss, thank you very much). She spoke with us about Have One On Me, her triple-disc album that comes out today, and how it was shaped by her increasingly high-profile lifestyle.

EW: The album has a lot of references to drinking and debauchery—is that autobiographical or just fiction?

JN: I think there is some of both, indirectly. A lot of the themes on the album have to do with traveling and being ungrounded in many ways, being sort of cast out and away from home, whatever that means. It kind of oversimplifies it in a way to talk about it. I’m trying to make a lyrical case rather than make the kind of case you would want to talk about at length in an interview. But I think that that’s part of the character of the record. For me I was thinking of it in terms of a 1920s expatriot version of decadence, that was the model of the kind of hedonism I wanted to write about.

EW: So this is your longest record. Did you intend for that, or did it just happen?

JN: It just kind of happened. Two thirds of the way through I already had enough material for a double album, but I weirdly felt it wasn’t done—I felt like I needed to get a better sense of what the themes were and I wanted to be able to tie them up. To introduce them, develop them and resolve them and I felt like I wasn’t there yet. So I tried to sequence it in a way that helped to locate that thread. Because I think there is a linear quality to the way that a lot of the ideas develop and revolve. It took me like three weeks to sequence it and I tried so many different permutations of songs. When it finally was sequenced I realized, to me at least, it made perfect sense as a triple album, and that’s what I decided to commit to.

EW: You used to live in Nevada City, Calif., but you seem to be in New York a lot. Are you living here now?

JN: I’m not. I do spend a fair amount of time there, but I’m still in Northern California. Not in Nevada City, but near where I grew up.

EW: You’ve been doing a fair amount of New York fashion stuff, like that shoot for W magazine. Has that affected how you approach music?

JN: I think in some ways. I did notice myself on this album either directly or indirectly writing about the city, sort of frantic dispatches from the city and trying to find a place there and figure out how to be creative and grounded in that world, which I still haven’t figured out, really. Yeah, I think it’s in there.

EW: I’ve read you wanted to play the harp and make music since you were a kid. Did you aspire to the fashion and fame thing as well, or is that more recent?

JN: Well, fashion is obviously a minefield of potentially toxic and horrible influences or forces at work, but fashion at its most simple, dreamy and pure form was something that interested me a lot. Like many people, I’m sure, I did the whole thing where you design clothes, hundreds and hundreds of pages of ideas that I wanted to make someday. And I really have always loved beautiful clothing, so there’s a side of that that’s exciting. I did sort of initially go through this phase of going to a lot of fashion-y things with that excitement, you know, being like, “Oooooo, this world! Fashion!” And then kind of getting deflated a little bit and realizing that in some cases—maybe I’m just not approaching it the right way—but in a lot of cases it just doesn’t seem to have much of a relationship with the actual parts of fashion or the actual parts of design that are exciting to me.

EW: There’s a line in your record that goes, “Sure I can pass/particularly when I start to tip my glass.” Is that a somewhat autobiographical reference to doing the New York scene and the fashion thing? READ FULL STORY

Raekwon on 'Wu-Massacre,' the future of the Wu-Tang Clan, his label dreams, and more: The Music Mix Q&A

Last fall’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, Part II was a milestone for Raekwon. The long-promised sequel to the Wu-Tang Clan member’s 1995 classic Only Built 4 Cuban Linx drew stronger reviews than he’d seen in many years and hit the Billboard 200’s top five the week of its release. Considering the six-year pause that preceded Cuban Linx II, you might expect Rae to be resting on his laurels right about now.

Hardly. He returns March 30 with Wu-Massacre (pictured), a full-length collaboration with his Wu brothers Method Man and Ghostface Killah; after that, it’s back to work on Rae’s next solo album, Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang. To take a breather from recording might risk losing momentum, which he’s simply unwilling to do. “Right now, I’m tired as hell,” Raekwon admits, sitting at a conference table at EMI Records’ NYC office with a red-and-blue New York Giants hoodie pulled low over his forehead. “But it’s a job.”

On top of all that, Raekwon is also trying to establish himself as an music-biz mogul. Cuban Linx II was the first product of his Ice H2O label, released in partnership with EMI. Next up is Capone-N-Noreaga’s The War Report II, another sequel to a beloved ’90s New York rap album. Rae is interested in diversifying to other genres, too: “If I could come with another Avril Lavigne or Lady Gaga…” he thinks out loud. “We’re just ready to keep it moving. No more five years away Rae s—. I’m trying to make Ice H2O the next Def Jam. In my eyes, I’m the Berry Gordy.”

Read on for Raekwon’s thoughts on Cuban Linx Part II, Wu-Massacre, Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang, and the possibility of another album from all eight members of the Wu-Tang Clan left after Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s 2004 passing — plus Rae’s reaction after seeing for the first time the crazy/awesome “RZA crosses the Potomac” painting that lit up the Internet last month.


Tom DeLonge on Angels and Airwaves' free 'Love,' the blink-182 reunion, and more: The Music Mix Q&A

Tom DeLonge is a busy guy. Last night around nine, the singer-guitarist (pictured, one from right) helped finalize the track sequencing for LOVE, the album that his band Angels & Airwaves will release online for free this Sunday, Feb. 14, as a complimentary Valentine’s Day gift to fans. (LOVE will also be available for free two days early this Friday on Fuel.TV.) This morning, he met with his other band, blink-182, which reunited for a 2009 tour after a four-year split, to talk about their plans. After that, he rushed off to meet with a few potential partners to secure a theatrical release for the sci-fi film, also titled LOVE, that Angels & Airwaves oversaw to accompany their album. (Trailers are viewable at Apple and the band’s website.) Oh yeah, and DeLonge also plans to “fix the music industry” via Modlife, the website he owns. The Music Mix got him on the phone to hear about all the items crowding his schedule.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How are you feeling about the new Angels & Airwaves album?
TOM DELONGE: I consider this, at this point, the pinnacle release of my life. There’s nothing that I have put more effort, more time, more heart, and more stress into than this release. It’s been a very long time since a band has attempted to make a motion picture associated with an album — not to mention have the album be completely free of any corporation, 100 percent independent. Artistically, I think this record has far exceeded anywhere I’ve been. So I’m just quietly anticipating Sunday’s release and hoping for the best.


Josh Turner Q&A: Country star has faith, several hit songs, and no idea who Rick Astley is

Josh Turner is the youngest male member of the Grand Ole Opry, and why wouldn’t he be? The guy’s sold millions of records and scored two No. 1 country hits (“Your Man” and “Would You Go with Me”), and his baritone could melt paint off a Buick. On the eve of his fourth album, Haywire — whose first single, “Why Don’t We Just Dance,” is on its way to the top of the charts, too — we interrupted Turner’s tour rehearsals to chat, and apparently ask a real stumper of a first question.

Entertainment Weekly: Are you going to be offended if I sometimes think of you as country music’s Rick Astley?
Josh Turner: Country music’s what now?

Country music’s Rick Astley.
I don’t know who that is. [laughs]

You remember Rick Astley!
No, I don’t.

[Lamely sings] “Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down…” He was a pop singer in the 1980s. Are you too young to remember?
I’m not too young, I just didn’t listen to pop music in the ‘80s.

He was this young, good looking guy, but he had this crazy deep voice that sounded like it was coming out of someone else entirely. You remind me of him.
I’ll take it as a compliment. READ FULL STORY

Matt Morris: Justin Timberlake's 'Hallelujah' duet partner talks Haiti telethon and Justin's next move

Justin Timberlake and Matt Morris’ slow, heartfelt cover of Leonard Cohen’s classic “Hallelujah” was a definite highlight of Jan. 22’s Hope for Haiti Now telethon. It was also the first time millions of TV viewers met Morris, an old friend of Timberlake’s who recently put out his debut, When Everything Breaks Open, on the pop star’s Tennman Records. We got Morris on the phone to talk about the telethon, his album — and when we can expect new music from his pal Justin.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did your participation in the Hope for Haiti Now telethon come together?
MATT MORRIS: I was in Los Angeles, promoting When Everything Breaks Open, when everything was coming together for the telethon. Justin asked if I would like to sing with him. I said, “Of course, in a heartbeat.”

Had he already picked which song to sing?
No. We brainstormed. He suggested it as an idea. We chewed on that for a minute. I had shot a video of me singing “Help!”, a ballad version of the Beatles song, which I posted last year on my YouTube page. He called me a few days prior and said, “Maybe we should think about performing ‘Help!'” So we took both of those songs to the rehearsal space and played through them. “Hallelujah” just felt right. The arrangement came together quickly and naturally.

It’s a song that’s been memorably covered by many artists.
It is a much-covered song, indeed. It’s a great song for it. It has the classic melody. It cuts to the heart. There have been some epic covers, some simple covers. I’m honored to be on the list of people who got a chance to cover the song, you know?


U2's the Edge spills details on their new album: The Music Mix Q&A

U2’s the Edge attended last weekend’s Golden Globes ceremony, where the band was up for a Best Original Song award for “Winter,” their contribution to Afghanistan war drama Brothers. (The trophy ended up going to Crazy Heart‘s “The Weary Kind.”) We caught up with the guitarist on the red carpet to get the scoop on U2’s planned follow-up to last year’s No Line on the Horizon. —Interview by Nicholas White

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How’s the new U2 music going?
We are working on a lot of new songs. Some of them are really, really happy. We’re convinced that we have something really special. It’s like deciding whether we are going to release the album before the tour starts or leave it for a while, we don’t really know yet. Literally, within a day of getting off the road, Bono and I were working on new songs. On a roll.

Are you incorporating any electronic influences?
We try and keep things moving forward. We are experimenting with a lot of different arrangements, and electronic is one of the things we are playing with. But there are other songs that are very traditional, almost folk. In some ways, that’s the thing we haven’t figured out yet, is where this album is going to end up. We’re having fun with the process.


'Crazy Heart': T Bone Burnett and Ryan Bingham talk about the movie's music, Leonard Cohen, and onstage vomiting

One of this awards season’s dark horse contenders is Crazy Heart, the Jeff Bridges-starring tale of a boozy, down-on-his-luck country singer called Bad Blake who lurches—often literally—from one ill-attended show to another.

The music in the movie was supervised by singer-songwriter T Bone Burnett, who previously performed the same task on the Johnny Cash biopic Walk The Line and O Brother, Where Art Thou?. Burnett also co-wrote the Golden Globe-nominated Crazy Heart track “The Weary Kind” with rising country-rocker Ryan Bingham, who also appears in the film. After the break, EW chats with the pair about the artists who inspired Bad Blake’s repertoire, the practical advantages of leather pants, and whether Bingham can afford to have Burnett produce his next album.


Roisin Murphy Q&A: The Irish diva talks about her newborn daughter and why she's delaying pulling an album together

These are busy times for Irish electro-pop chanteuse Roisin Murphy. She gave birth to her first child, Clodagh Henwood, not even a month ago, and on January 18th she will release a new single called “Momma’s Place,” which you can hear on her myspace (Geisha-styled artwork and proof of her pregnancy is to the left). Murphy describes the song as an “old school house track,” and it provides just as much moody joy as its recent predecessor, “Orally Fixated.”

Murphy took some time to talk to us while taking a break in the Irish countryside and told us the ways pregnancy has affected her music, how her new single is a bit of a tell-off to her newborn daughter, and the reasons why we might not actually get a new Roisin album this year, as fans have been expecting.

EW: Congratulations on the addition to your family. How is motherhood treating you?

RM: Thank you. Fine. If I could get any sleep in the nighttime or daytime, it would be perfect. But everything in life that’s worth doing throws a challenge at you. It’s hard to say because I’m kind of in a non-real place at the moment: I’m in Ireland, I’m surrounded by my family and it’s not my real everyday life in London. So to know how it’s completely changed me, I guess I’ll have to be settled back in London for a little while. I’m still doing the nightshift, I’m still being the mom, but I’m not in the world of the media, not working, not doing fashion shows and gigs, I’m in the country, in Ireland, so I’m away from all of that. So I’m not in my real, everyday existence. I’m in a transitional stage.

EW: How did the idea of motherhood and being pregnant influence album?


Q&A with Miley Cyrus songwriter Jessi Alexander: 'The Climb' being pulled from Grammy noms is 'devastating'

Songwriter Jessi Alexander and her co-writer Jon Mabe may be two of the briefest Grammy nominees in history: “The Climb” got pulled from the Best Song Written for a Motion Picture race yesterday, after Disney determined that it hadn’t been written specifically for the Miley Cyrus vehicle Hannah Montana: The Movie (as Grammy rules for soundtrack songs require), and withdrew it from the category. Naturally, this came as quite the shock to Alexander, who has been under contract as a Disney songwriter for, as she puts it, “three and a half years that have been really good to me.” We are still awaiting comment from a Disney rep, but in the meantime, we spoke to Alexander about the “gray areas” of the songwriting process, and her questions regarding the technicality that got “The Climb” disqualified.

Entertainment Weekly: I’m assuming you found out earlier than the rest of us that this was happening. Did Disney tell you? Or did the Grammys tell you?
Jessi Alexander: Some of the Disney brand staff members congratulated me about the nomination. So I spent one night on a high. And then the following morning was a new low, when I was told it was gonna be pulled by Disney.

Did they talk to you before they pulled it?
They were in the process of pulling it. And of course, my take was, I understand that there are rules — although I knew nothing about the rules when I found out about the nomination — but let’s at least just tell NARAS where the gray areas are and let them make the decision. But Disney made the decision, and I was just told.

So was the song written specifically for the Hannah Montana movie?
This is the gray area. READ FULL STORY

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